Dale Pruitt, dad of Jeremy Pruitt, returns to Marion County as football coach

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ Dade County head coach Dale Pruitt questions a call.

For its new head football coach, Marion County has turned to one of its former coaches.

The Warriors named Dale Pruitt - whose list of accomplishments includes back-to-back seven-win seasons at Marion 15 years ago - to replace Joey Mathis, who resigned earlier this month to take over the program at Coosa in Rome, Georgia.

Pruitt, the father of University of Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt, guided Dade County's program last season and is approaching 300 wins in a career that stretches nearly four decades and includes stops in three states.

"There are a lot of things at Marion County that had me interested in the job," Dale Pruitt said. "First, it's a football school. That's always important. The kids are tough and play hard, and I have a lot of good memories from my time there before. I'm looking forward to getting started again.

photo Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ Dade County head coach Dale Pruitt calls for a two point conversion try after a touchdown. The Gordon Lee Trojans visited the Dade County Wolverines in GHSA football action on August 23, 2019.

"Their tradition was a big deal. I enjoyed being a part of the rivalry with South Pittsburg and all the support that the community gives to the team. I just felt like that's the best place for me at this point in my career."

One of the most respected coaches in Alabama prep football, Pruitt has been successful at nearly every stop he has made while compiling a 292-144 overall record. He began his head coaching career at Pisgah in 1982 and was 18-4 in two years, including 10-0 in 1983, before moving on to his alma mater, Plainview, where he compiled a 164-64 record in 17 seasons. He later put together an 18-13 record in three seasons at Fort Payne, which included the program's first playoff appearance in eight years, before going 14-9 at Marion County in 2004-05.

He returned to Plainview in 2006, reaching the playoffs in all but one of his eight seasons there, before taking over at Albertville in 2014. Dade County was 2-8 this past year.

Pruitt's teams have reached the state playoffs 25 times, won 13 region championships and appeared in an Alabama Class 3A state championship game twice. Four times his teams finished the regular season unbeaten.

"The biggest thing with Coach Pruitt is he was familiar with the program," Marion County athletic director Chuck Keef said. "He knows the school and we know him and what type of character he brings and what type of coach he is. Not only the success, but you don't have to worry about the TSSAA knocking on our door, because we know he does things the right way.

"We had a lot of good candidates who applied and we interviewed 10, and any one of them would have been a good hire. That let me know that Marion County is still a desirable job, even though we had a down year last season. The opportunity for him to come in here and get 300 wins is huge. It's just a real good fit, and we feel like hiring him is a big win for us."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.